Are You Asking Permission and If So, Whose?
One of society’s most widely perceived ‘liberties’ has to do with coming of age and permission. As we age, we are often granted more trust and responsibility, even enough to make our own decisions. Though, walking with Jesus shows us that maturity is not necessarily synonymous with the idea of no longer having to ask the permission of those above us. Much like other disciplines in our walk with Jesus, this idea of asking permission is counter cultural to what society promotes in that asking God permission surrounding our decisions and pursuits is actually an indication of responsibility, stemming from maturity rather than the opposite way around.
From a societal perspective, we wake up one day and everyone around us gives us permission to no longer ask permission anymore. We’re expected not to. Though, if you’ve been hanging out with Jesus meaningfully for some time, you’ve likely heard or come to understand as true that there’s never an ‘arrival point’ in our walk where we say, “okay, Lord, I’ve got this one on my own, I can do it without you.” We need Jesus each day all the same, and in that is included our need for permission from God our Father. Let’s clarify our understanding of the type of permission being discussed. The permission I’m referring to surrounds less minute decisions such as what SD card to purchase or video editing software to use and surrounds more, larger decisions such as the projects you take on, the things you’re communicating and how you’re communicating those things, your mission, or your vision—a practical example is the sermon series you want to do next. In each of these things, permission becomes a matter of including God in the decision making process.
Critically-speaking, there are times where we don’t need permission, but discerning when we do and when we don’t is challenging. We don’t need to ask permission when we know objectively what God is telling us and what the right thing to do is. Asking God for His permission is not intended to be out of fear, obligation, compulsion, or tyranny because that isn’t the nature of God our Father. He does trust us in the position in which He has placed us. However, there comes a point when praying “not our will but Yours be done” and when we ask God why certain things are happening, what things we are to do, and how we are supposed to do them, that it seems silly not to ask God His opinion and ask what He wants. There’s much potential that the things we want are different from the things He wants, Scripture alludes to this in Isaiah 55:8-9:
“ For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
 For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts then your thoughts” (ESV)
and again in Proverbs 20:24 (ESV) where it reads, “a man’s steps are from the Lord; how then can man understand his way?”
When we consider this idea of permission in the context of Scripture, God’s authorization to go ahead in a certain way to do what we perceive to be building His Kingdom becomes of utmost importance. There becomes a desire for His permission as we navigate the liminal space between Him entrusting us with the things He has given us to steward (decisions within tasks, jobs, spiritual giftings, time, finances, our personal ministry and individual capacities etc) and also remaining aware that as He entrusts us with these things, we are still to rely on Him and communicate with Him about them. We communicate with the Church, to our peers, to our church congregations, to those whom we are ministering to and partnering with in ministry, and to those who don’t know Jesus yet, and the common denominator among all these groups is God, so why wouldn’t we communicate thoughtfully and inclusively with Him to seek His permission in our service to Him? Here emerges the desire for His permission as we set out to serve Him. Here is where heavenly permission that is liberating and affirming transcends what we may have known of restrictive and rigid earthly permission. So, I encourage you to ask God His permission. Do you have permission to be doing the things you’re doing, to make decisions the way you’re making them, to create the things you’re creating, to pursue the things you’re pursuing, and to pray the things you’re praying for?